The essential trace mineral selenium contributes to the body's production of antioxidant enzymes which help prevent cell damage. A number of studies have suggested that selenium may play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers and boosting male fertility. Now two Italian studies point to the element's capacity for inhibiting LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation and preventing muscle weakening.

In one study, 14 healthy participants supplemented daily with selenium for 10 days. Blood work confirmed that selenium appeared to inhibit after-meal increases in oxidation-modified LDL and the reactive carbonyl compound MDA, an end-product of lipid oxidation. Before supplementation, these same subjects showed 2% LDL increases.

The second study measured plasma selenium levels in 891 elderly men and women. After accounting for differences in age, sex and daily food consumption, researchers found that people with the lowest plasma concentrations of selenium were as much as 94% more likely to have poor hip, knee and grip strength.

The Bigger Picture: More research needs to be conducted to verify these findings, but with so many potential benefits appearing in so many studies it's probably a good idea to make sure you're getting enough selenium. Good sources include lobster, crab, kidney, nuts, grains and eggs. You can also find selenium in Pro Complex, PerforMAXX and other quality health and fitness products.
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